The Wisconsin Cheese Association has created a marvellous tool, available as a website and as an app, for pairing wine or spirits and cheese. It’s called the Cheese Cupid. Very cool and works in both directions, i.e., pick the cheese and it’ll pair it with a wine of spirit, or vice versa. Very handy, even for sophisticated eaters and imbibers.
A new study just published in the journal Cell Metabolism may have significant implications for human obesity. While the study is in mice, it is also extremely well controlled and the results are very compelling. It turns out that restricting feeding to a window of 9-12 hours has significant metabolic effects on everything from blood glucose to cholesterol. The graphic below shows the effects of various feeding schedules on obese and normal weight mice.
The link above goes to the Abstract, but unlike many on-line peer-reviewed journals, Cell Biology allows you to access the full article from the page.
It’s encouraging to see large-scale animal handling done “right”. I’d like to believe that this is the rule rather than the exception, and that the rare exception is what we see in the “secret” videos by animal rights groups. Tough to know which is which. Either way, even when done right and vetted by the leading animal rights scientist, it gives a real appreciation of the lives we take in order to eat. We are moving to eating a lot less flesh and more vegetables in keeping with emerging health, environmental and cultural knowledge.
I loved this clip from Gear Patrol; it reminded me of the wonderful film, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, which, if you haven’t yet, is a must see. I don’t know if the pizza is as good as it looks. I’ve asked Mr. Dario, our New York correspondent, foodie, man about town, tour guide, Porschefile, to look into it.
I’m not a food historian so can’t quite say when it happened, but if I search my memory, I vaguely remember it being sometime in the 1980’s (a lot of things in my memory are vague about the 1980’s, a time of braincells cauterized by young kids and relentless work ambition): Food that used to be presented separately on the plate, began to appear stacked one element on top of another.
At first it was cute and trendy. Then it began to invade every meal at every restaurant; ingredients that made no sense on top of each other, created a confused mish-mash of flavours. This trend has largely continued unabated. A couple of months ago my wife attended a conference and I accompanied her to the wonderful Fairmont Chateau Montebello hotel. I won’t soon forget the lunch at the main restaurant, where a lady in her sixties lambasted the server for bringing her a steak stacked on top of French fries, with no room on the plate to cut the steak without mashing into the fries. She caused quite a scene and I could tell it was one of those “cashing in your trading stamps” moments where years of frustration are released upon one hapless person.
Yesterday I had lunch at the Forest & Stream Club with a client. The food was excellent as always, but my poached salmon was stacked on a thick bed of mashed potatoes with carrots and asparagus piled on top. It made no sense. I had to deconstruct the plate in order to eat the food. Fortunately, their plates are quite large and there was some room to do it.
Some foods work well stacked because their various flavours combine to create something where the whole is more than the sum of its parts….the classic in that regard being the hamburger. If you were to separate the components of a burger onto a plate, well, it simply wouldn’t be the same taste; the burger relies on each bite having some of every one of its parts in it…it’s a gestalt!
But it makes no sense to pile a steak on fries, a salmon filet on mashed potatoes and carrots, etc. We spent two weeks in France last year and thanks to my friend Stephane Gabart, got to dine at some of the best local restaurants in the Bordeaux region. I am happy to report that most of the time the food was either minimally stacked or not stacked at all. And when there was any stacking it made sense from a food combination perspective.
Also known as Lake Trout, Salvelinus namaycush, is a freshwater char native to many lakes in northern North America. It is characterized by a notched tail and its white spots on a darker skin.
My son is an avid fisherman and came back last week with a number of these, each weighing a little over 2 lbs, excellent eating for two people. He also landed a 5lb. landlocked salmon which is sitting in my large freezer for the mandatory week, prior to being filleted and turned into Gravlax. Freezing is essential if one is going to eat the fish raw or cured, to kill off any parasites that may inhabit the flesh, a common occurrence with all fish these days. It is the same reason sushi bars must freeze all their fish prior to use.
I stuffed the cavity with thick lemon slices, much fresh basil, and a good dollop of Irish butter inside and out, then wrapped the fish in parchment and baked it for 30 minutes at 350. Absolutely delicious, served with my home-made French fries and a Greek green bean stew topped with feta cheese.
My grandmother used to put a tablespoon of butter in her morning coffee. We all thought it was really weird, but since she didn’t eat much, we saw it as a small peccadillo on her part. She was never overweight. Rarely ate breakfast, had a light lunch and dinner. Never smoked. Never admitted to hospital. Had a couple of small procedures over her lifespan: Removal of a tiny fishbone from her throat in the ER, and a breast lumpectomy under local anaesthesia in the doctor’s office at age 85. Died at age 96 (or more; old Greek ladies tended to lie about their age).
Now comes “Bulletproof coffee”. A couple tablespoons of grass-fed butter and two more of MCT oil (whatever the Hell that is) in two cups of coffee, blended up and drunk down for breakfast. Proponents claim it is a powerful weight-loss tool as well as tasting great. Good summary in this Men’s Journal article. Photo from the article. Seems to be the “next new thing” in dieting and health.
Did bulletproofing her coffee add to my grandmother’s health and longevity? Sure it did. It was magic! Couldn’t have been the fact that she ate very small quantities of food, never smoked, worked physically all day, and rushed to the doctor at the slightest symptom (Mediterranean Syndrome)! Nah….it was the butter and coffee.
Like kidney stones…this too will pass.
Every generation thinks it invented all the hot trends. But in most cases, they are often ideas recycled from generations past. Here’s a wonderful skit with Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca at the health food restaurant. It looks late 1950’s. Hilarious. Plus ca change!
David L. Katz has a sterling pedigree in the world of medicine: He is Director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center. Dr. Katz writes extensively and often controversially about topics in health, especially around diet and nutrition. His articles are almost always “different” in their take and equally entertaining and engaging. His latest piece, Fed Up, Confused, and Still Eating is really worth a read. He makes the analogy between sex and eating as powerful biological drives, the former under strict social control and the latter, run amuck:
So there you have it: being hungry is like being horny, but with no rules.
Katz goes on to deal with and put to rest the bogus issue of willpower:
Clearly, lack of will power does not explain epidemic obesity. There is no basis in either science or sense to infer that the current crop of 7-year-olds lacks will power that every prior cohort had – yet they are much more subject to obesity and diabetes. Kids are much the same as they ever were; their environment has changed. So, no, will power is not the cause.
As a public health expert, Katz’s view is necessarily 30,000 ft. He looks at obesity as an interplay between personal choices and environmental context, i.e., what’s available to eat. The two are an inseparable gestalt of foreground and background. His ongoing attack on those who rehash old theories while dismissing recent evidence is also significant. Atkins, Paleo, South Beach, have all been around in various incarnations for 100 years or more. Katz points out that singling out individual foods as culprits, even sugar, is a distraction from the real challenge.
But we are NOT clueless about the basic care and feeding of Homo sapiens, and much of the apparent debate is all heat and no light. Of course calories and energy balance matter, but just as obviously- so do the sources of that energy.
An important read. have a look.